There aren’t too many people in Eden who don’t recognise Neville Cowgill, whether they’re former cubs and scouts, students who used to ride on his school bus service from Towamba, or people in the community who’ve benefited from his continued voluntary efforts.
“I get a ‘G’day Nev!’ when I walk down the street so that’s nice,” he said, and for him that’s recognition enough.
However, Bega Valley Shire Council had other ideas and awarded Nev the Community Medallion at a ceremony at the Bega Country Club on Wednesday last week.
He was one of eight recipients of the medallion who were all rewarded for their efforts as volunteers in communities throughout the shire.
“I was pretty stoked,” Neville said of the notification that he’d won the medallion. “I don’t do all the work for those sorts of things but it’s good to be recognised.”
Neville arrived in Eden 43 years ago, bringing his family to the town and buying the school bus run to Bega.
“That was before I knew they were building the new high school here after the chip mill started up,” he said.
“So it wasn’t the best move I ever made.”
He ended up with the Towamba school run and running the first coach south of Batemans Bay, turning it into a success.
While driving busloads of rowdy kids around isn’t everyone’s idea of relaxation, Neville had an affinity with youngsters, having four of his own and bringing to Eden his experience as a scout leader.
“I enjoy working with the kids and you get some moments when it’s what it’s all about,” he said of his years progressing from cub leader through to district commissioner and his present role as personal leader advisor.
“When we first started there were about 55 kids involved and about 1980 we started up a venturer troop and that was good because you’re with 16 to 18-year-old kids and can have meaningful conversations with them.”
He said his key to success with youngsters is involvement.
“Whenever I did anything around the house, I’d always involve the kids and show them how to do stuff – the wife didn’t always like them using power tools!”
These days Neville spends his volunteering with the Eden RSL sub-branch, Eden Marine Rescue, Eden Services and Social Club Inc and the SES.
“Helen (his wife) will tell you I’m like a caged bear if I’ve got nothing to do!” he said.